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Fans watch the Mavericks play California State University Bakersfield during the National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal March 22 at College Park Center. 

On Feb 1, 2012, the College Park Center opened its doors to UTA’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.

Just over five years later, the teams amassed a 25-4 home record in the 2016-17 season and set some program records in attendance.

Before the $78 million facility with a 7,000 person capacity opened, both teams played at Texas Hall, which has a seating capacity of 2,625 with the balcony.

Average attendance for the men’s basketball team elevated from 822 in its final season at Texas Hall to 2,798 people per game last season.

The women’s basketball team finished its last season with a 22-9 record, tied for the third-most wins in program history. During the campaign, the Lady Mavericks drew an average crowd of 1,657, a program high.

“We’ve kind of turned the tide with the College Park Center in terms of making it a great home-court advantage,” said Scott Cross, men’s basketball head coach. “When you have five to 6,000 people, I think it could be one of the greatest home-court advantages in college basketball.”

Although the Mavericks haven’t filled the stadium to capacity, the goal is to keep increasing attendance, said Jim Baker, director of intercollegiate athletics.

“Our goal is to eventually sell the place out as much as we can,” Baker said. “First goal is to continue to grow the attendance downstairs.”

The men’s team had two of the top five highest-attended UTA basketball games at the center with its National Invitation Tournament games against the University of Akron (5,390) and California State University, Bakersfield (6,336) last season.

Throughout its five-year lifespan, the center expanded its reach beyond hosting only UTA athletic events. The building is now home to the Dallas Wings, a WNBA team. The center also hosted the 2016 Sun Belt Volleyball Championship, and Baker said the university will bid on hosting the tournament again.

President Vistasp Karbhari said in an email that the center is a good venue for Arlington, the university and alumni.

“It was wonderful to see school spirit at a high during the regular basketball season and the postseason NIT games,” Karbhari said. “I hope that all who were there will return for the upcoming volleyball and basketball seasons with their friends, so that we pack the arena and show true Maverick pride.”

Although school spirit appears to be rising, Cross said UTA’s athletic teams will need to continue to put winners on the court.

“We have to continue to put a great product out on the floor,” he said. “Hopefully, we can put another great product on the floor and people will get excited and want to be a part of it.”

@Lopezselby31

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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